Benefits of EHR for billing

Of all the EHR features available on the market, EHR billing represents one of the many features that can offer significant gains in cutting waste and optimizing revenue flows. According to a study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University, generating a single bill costs anywhere from $20 to $215 depending on the type of visit. Although the study was conducted on organizations with existing EHRs, the overall cost of billing can be reduced with the use of EHR billing software.

EHR billing features offer providers two significant benefits that can reduce operational costs and improve revenue flows. Firstly, EHR billing offers a way to reduce time and expenses related to billing. Secondly, it also gives providers a way to improve the accuracy of billing processes by reducing the risk for costly billing errors

Reduced administrative costs

According to the study referenced above, administrative costs for billing can skyrocket when administrative tasks for billing involve intensive data input by clinical and administrative staff. When looking at five types of visits: primary care visits, ER visits resulting in a patient discharge, general medicine hospital stays, outpatient surgical procedures, and inpatient surgeries the study found that a primary care visit required necessitated 13 minutes in billing costing $20; 100 minutes and $215 for inpatient surgery; a primary care visit expended anywhere from 3 minutes, at about $6, to 15 minutes and $51 for outpatient surgery.

Given the substantial time and expense often spent by clinicians and administrative staff in these tasks, EHR billing software offers organizations the ability to reduce these costs by automating these processes by removing the time needed by staff to input billing information and generate these into a format that can be used for billing.  

Higher reimbursement rate

Further, practices can also reduce their risk of being audited and also avoid down coding which can result in lost revenue. Billing software for an EHR can optimize revenue collection and avoid unnecessary costs by making sure coding and clinical documentation is properly aligned and documented.

For practices that bill CMS or private insurance, the importance of making certain billing is accurate is imperative. Looking at recent statistics issued by CMS, the massive scope of the billing error problem is illustrated. For example, in the 2017 $36 billion (9.5 percent) of claims submitted to CMS were paid in error. Of these bills containing errors, 0.3 percent represented underpayments ($1 billion). Therefore, given these statistics, reducing the risk of billing errors with EHR billing software not only reduces audit risk it also aids in avoiding revenue loss by underbilling.   

Automated processes for payment

Slow payment on outstanding bills can drain a practice's revenue flows. Further compounding this problem is the fact that in the absence of EHR billing software a practice will expend administrative resources on billing for current and delinquent accounts.

Billing software’s benefits are clearly illustrated in research and through case studies which provide tangible proof of their potential value. When making the case for billing software or features practices should consider their current billing practices and whether the investment needed to include these features can provide value. 

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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